He might be involved in high-profile cancer research as a scientist, but Indian-origin scholar Satyajit Bhattacharya is giving back to the local community in his adopted country by helping economically backward children realise their potential in science.
The 'Harlem Children Society' founded by him has benefited more than 1500 economically backward and minority children by providing them hands on experience on research in myriad fields in science, technology, maths & engineering (STEM) stream.
The students have had accomplished mentors in leading universities, hospitals, research centres like Cornell, Columbia, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and NASA guide them in their endeavours.
Bhattacharya, who is a Research Scientist of Molecular Cancer Genetics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York started this internship program 12 years ago when he moved to New York after completing his education in India.
The program consists of hands on experience in research labs and scientific centres for four to five days in a week, attending lectures by Nobel Laureates and scientists, presentation of research papers to develop aptitude in conducting independent research and higher learning.
The students are chosen from poor background who are struggling to complete high school education.
The students often work in labs part-time after school and full time in summer and spring breaks. These internships helps the students to get into top universities and Ivy League institutions such as Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, MIT, Dartmouth, Penn State and others, and also helps them in getting credit for their graduate studies.
"It's an open-ended program and it prevents school dropout rates very much. The students get scholarship ranging from USD 1500 to USD 2000 per month during the program as in the absence of scholarship they are forced to get jobs in McDonalds or Starbucks often at the compulsion of their parents," Bhattacharya told PTI.
The broad spectrum of cutting-edge topics on which students have engaged in research so far include aerospace engineering, biomedicine and bio informatics, computer modelling, cybernetics, forensics, genetic engineering, green architecture, HIV/AIDS , nanotechnology, protein modelling, renewable energy among others.
Students are also taught financial management and basic skills such as communication, public relations and resume writing.
A number of school principals, science teachers, scientists, engineers and doctors from leading institutions - have joined in to support the endeavour of developing scientific pursuit among children.